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The Handmaid's Tale: Vows

"June. Boat. Now!"

This episode completely surprised me.

It seemed inevitable that it would end with June re- re- recaptured and once again imprisoned in Gilead. Instead, June reunited with her husband Luke and (oh, so slowly) stepped off the gangplank in Canada. I honestly didn't think they would go there, even though it was exactly where I wanted the story to go.

I completely understood Oona's viewpoint; breaking the rules that way could nix all of her organization's future relief missions. But how could Moira possibly leave June behind to die? After Angels' Flight, June is Public Enemy Number One in Gilead, no small thing. June herself probably changed Oona's mind by volunteering with total sincerity to turn herself in. And during that harrowing port inspection, June had a half smile on her face and didn't respond to the soldier's questions, like she wanted to be caught.

Was it all just too much? Honestly, at this point, execution in Gilead might appear easier for June than the loss of her daughter, than continuing to fight such an unbelievably difficult and heartbreaking battle day after day.

Will the Gilead authorities find out the truth in the coming days, anyway? What about all of those starving, injured people CERA might not be able to help? Moira is now out of the organization and she just lost her girlfriend for June's sake. Oh, well. I think Moira should be with Emily, anyway.

It was smart to supplement the present day escape with a flashback to another time when things were also changing for June and Moira, best friends and roommates. June was packing up to move in with her fiancé Luke, and Moira was apprehensive because Luke had cheated on his first wife with June. That was a valid point that June absolutely did not want to hear since she had already made up her mind.

The title of this episode is "Vows," and that could mean marriage vows, of course. But for June, this episode was all about her vow to stay in Gilead until she could rescue her daughter Hannah. June just broke that vow, just as Luke broke his wedding vows to his first wife.

But the flashback added another dimension to June's vows – that having a baby was a crucial component to her marriage to Luke, that he might not want her anymore if she went back to him without their daughter. Her first words to him were an apology; "I'm sorry it's just me." June seems to be so strong all the time that the lack of self-worth she showed here was something of a shock. I want Luke to prove to her that it's not all about Hannah, that he loves June for herself. It will be interesting to see where this goes from here.

Of course, it still seems inevitable that June will wind up back in Gilead, precisely because Hannah is still there. That Hannah montage was so sad. Hannah represents all of those little girls in Gilead, all of those women in bondage. It will never be over until they're free.


— Elisabeth Moss is always terrific, but I thought this was Samira Wiley's episode. Her performance ran the gamut of emotions. I particularly liked the easy way she lied to the port soldiers, "Toronto. Born and bred," when as an escaped handmaid wanted for murder, she was also in serious danger.

— Flashback June told Moira that she was keeping her own name when she married Luke because of her mother, Holly, not for herself.

— How come not rescuing Hannah is June's failure and not Luke's?

— This week's Most Obvious Symbolism was the cocktail pitcher that flashback June stole from flashback Moira, a symbol of their possibly fragile and breakable but beautiful friendship.

— I know I'm repetitive mentioning the amazing photography in every review, but the war zone at the docks? The ships on the water in the dark? The battered maple leaf painted on the relief ship? Exceptional.



Oona: "I get that this is hard."
Moira: "No, it's not hard. It's life or death."

Moira: "Luke, Emily, Rita, everyone who loves you is there. Nichole. Nichole is there."

Oona: "The hardest part is when you're the one with the power."
No kidding.

Oona: "Humanitarian missions are about people. Not one person."
But June is always the exception, isn't she?

June: "Just so you know, I'm never moving again. Never."
Luke: "Deal. I'll put it in the vows."
I say that I'm never moving again every time I move, too.

Apologies for posting this season's reviews so late. I'm usually on top of it, posting the next day or the day after. Bad Billie, no biscuit.

Three out of four cocktail pitchers,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. I never really thought that June wanted to be caught, I thought she was just suffering from her concussion, but it makes sense. I’m so glad she didn’t get re-re-re-captured, I feel like that has been done to death. And I love her and Moira together.

  2. Her first words to him were an apology; "I'm sorry it's just me." June seems to be so strong all the time that the lack of self-worth she showed here was something of a shock.

    I took it as survivor guilt. She escaped, many were left behind. June is so messed up at this point, maybe she’s talking to herself: Sorry, it’s just me. I failed.
    Thank you for your reviews. Always greats insights. I’m binging the show so fast that I’m late on reading the reviews. What a great show!

  3. I was completely enthralled by this episode and am loving this season, but I see a huge plot hole in this episode. Given that Moira is a considered a fugitive by Gilead (former handmaid who committed murder), I don't think the NGO would have let her join the mission, given the port inspections by Gilead. In other words,her participation should have been nixed for the same reason that they didn't want to take June to Canada.

    I expect that June will return to Gilead, given that there will be two more seasons of this show. But when she does, I hope that she goes on some badass spy mission or something instead of just going by herself to fight alone and get re-re-re-re-captured and tortured again and again and again.

  4. I was really surprised the writers have decided to bring June to Canada. I expected Moira to end up having to stay in Chicago either by choice (because she wouldn't leave June) or by accident because they just missed the boat.

    Anonymous has a good point about Moira, too. I would have thought that the NGO could try to hide June's identity when she back to Canada. If Luke and Moira don't talk to the press and the Canadian government plays dumb, couldn't they conceal it?


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